Channel 4 yesterday announced that popular book White Gold is to be transformed into a historical drama series for the network.

BAFTA-winning writer Adrian Hodges will write the two-hour pilot script and bible for the proposed twelve episode series.

“Our focus at Red Arrow is to identify the boldest stories, with international relevance, and match them with world-class writing talent. White Gold blows the lid off a forgotten yet revelatory chapter from our past and, given the sheer scale and ambition of the project, we’re delighted to have Adrian Hodges at the helm to bring this story to life. It’s a story as thought provoking as it is gripping and its perfect home is Channel 4.” Says Simon Maxwell.

White Gold is an extraordinary account of the Barbary Corsair pirates and the white slave trade in North Africa throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. During this time, over one million white slaves were snatched in pirate raids across England, mainland Europe, and even as far as North America. The book revolves around the true story of Thomas Pellow, a young Cornish merchant seized at sea by Barbary Corsairs and bought by the sultan of Morocco, Moulay Ismail, a man who had monarchs across the Western world running scared. So begun Pellow’s 23-year ordeal as the sultan’s slave. It’s a story of extraordinary adventure, bravery, defiance and ultimately triumph against incredible odds.

Sophie Gardiner, C4 commissioning editor for drama adds “We are delighted to be developing White Gold with Adrian Hodges and Red Arrow. It is a show of great scale and ambition, a story of a fascinating period of our history and one which we would love to see on our screens.”

Red Arrow, in conjunction with producer Piers Tempest, optioned the rights to the book in 2011 and soon began discussions with Adrian Hodges about adapting the story for the screen. Adrian immediately saw the potential to expand the book’s characters and themes over an even broader, more epic canvas as a long-running series for TV. A pitch was prepared and sold in to Channel 4.

Adrian Hodges said: “White Gold is an incredible historical adventure that sheds light on a little known part of our history. It’s about slavery and survival, the clash of wildly different cultures and above all the unquenchable desire for freedom. It’s very rare to come across a story that features such a panoramic account of a remarkable event in our collective past which also features such an amazing collection of vivid characters and incidents. I’m truly excited by the incredible potential of this story and looking forward to the challenge of dramatising it. I can honestly say that in over 20 years as a professional writer I’ve rarely come across material so packed with almost unbelievable drama which is both true to its period and yet also full of contemporary resonance. It’s a great story and I hope I can do it justice.”

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